Partition of Bengal: Summary, Causes, Annulment | Bengal Partition 1905

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Partition of Bengal and the swadeshi movement happened in 1905 even after Lord Curzon, the British India regent, encountered fierce opposition from the nationalists of India. Nevertheless, the partition of Bengal marked the start of the Indian National Congress’ transformation from a middle-class political organisation into a wide-ranging growing movement. Since 1765, Bengal, Bihar, & Orissa were a unified region of British India. However, the area was too big by 1900 for an administration to govern. Because of its isolation and weak connections, East Bengal was divided into West Bengal and Bihar, which is known as the Bengal partition.

The partition of Bengal UPSC notes is essential to prepare modern Indian History topics for UPSC exams. Aspirants looking for detailed information on this topic can also download the partition of Bengal 1905 PDF from the direct link below.

History of Partition of Bengal

The Partition of Bengal took place on October 16, 1905, under the administration of Viceroy Lord Curzon, resulting in the Bengal partition into Eastern Bengal and Western Bengal. The states of Bihar & Bengal, including some regions of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Assam, were all part of the Bengal Presidency. With 78.5 million inhabitants, it was British India’s largest district. For many decades, British officials argued that the province’s immense size made it difficult to handle the process and led to the marginalization of the poorer eastern part. As a result, the Bengal division was only suggested for administrative purposes.

Partition of Bengal 1905 PDF

Lord Curzon intended to split Bihar & Orissa and unite fifteen of Bengal’s eastern provinces into Assam. The capital of an eastern province was Dhaka, with a populace of 31 million people, the bulk of whom was Muslims. After the partition of Bengal, Curzon stated that he considered the new region Muslim. Instead of dividing Hindus and Muslims, Lord Curzon wanted to split Bengalis. The other province was composed of Orissa, Bihar, and the Western Districts. Bengali speakers are now in the minority due to the merger of western Bengal with Orissa and Bihar.

Muslims favoured division, commanded by Dhaka’s Nawab Sallimullah, while Hindus opposed it. Indians were persuaded that the partition of Bengal was caused by the large population, which made administration difficult for the British. However, the British’s true objective was to destabilize the nerve core of nationalism (Bengal) in order to protect their interests. The people overwhelmingly rejected this. Militant nationalism arose as a result of the partition of Bengal.

Causes of Partition of Bengal

On October 16, 1905, Lord Curzon, the British ruler of India at that time, partitioned Bengal. For administrative regions, the division was promoted; Bengal was the same size as France but had a much larger population. The eastern region was viewed as being poorly governed and unappreciated. A more robust government could be established in the East by splitting the province, resulting in more local educational facilities and job opportunities. The partition of Bengal plan, however, was carried out for various reasons, which are as follows:

  • After Curzon declared the partition of Bengal, there was significant political unrest throughout the region.
  • Many Bengalis thought that this division was just an insult to our country. So there was a loud call for Bengal’s reunification. The iconic song “Amar Sonar Bangla,” written by Rabindranath Tagore, served as Bangladesh’s flag and anthem.
  • The Indian National Congress condemned this attempt to partition the province along race lines.
  • The bulk of Bengalis in the west rejected the change as it would have rendered them a minority tongue within their province. The majority of Bangladeshis will speak Hindi or Odia.
  • Many Bengali Muslims supported this move since they thought that if they became the majority in the new province, this would advance their academic, economic, and political interests.
  • Furthermore, Curzon promised to build a university in Dhaka. Furthermore, this was seen as an opportunity for Muslims to advance their education or improve their living standards.
  • The remaining part of the nation primarily opposed the partition of Bengal. The people revealed the British govt’s “divide and rule” strategy.
  • The primary objective of such a separation was to sever connections between the two communities and weaken patriotic feelings in the nation. A few Muslims also rejected the separation.
  • As a result of this Bengal partition, the Swadeshi and Boycott organizations in the nationalist fight were formed.
  • Individuals have begun to avoid British goods since they are highly saturated in India and harm the city’s industry.
  • Significant religious fracturing of the country led to the creation of the Muslim League around the year 1906.

Bengal Partition Date

The Partition of Bengal divided the British Indian province of Bengal into two separate entities, West Bengal and East Bengal. The partition was meant to weaken the nationalist movement in Bengal and balance the province’s Hindu-Muslim population ratio. The Bengal partition date was October 16, 1905, and it took place under the leadership of Lord Curzon.

Furthermore, a critical reason for the partition of Bengal was that earlier, the Bengal province consisted of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. However, the unified region was too big to govern. Thus, Bengal was divided into East Bengal and Bengal and then further divided into West Bengal and Bihar.

Features of Partition of Bengal

In December 1903, the British administration decided on the partition of Bengal. Lord Curzon, the Governor of India at that time, was the individual who made this decision. In Bengal, there are two provinces:

  • The first was Bengal, which included Orissa, Bihar, and Western Bengal regions.
  • Eastern Bengal & Assam came second.

While Eastern Bengal chose Dacca as its capital, Bengal retained Calcutta just like its city centre.

The true motive for partition of Bengal was a wish to weaken the state, which had been the epicentre of Indian nationalism in the early twentieth century. With a populace of 78 million, Bengal was split because it had grown difficult to control.

  • Linguistic rationale: Making Bengalis a minority within Bengal. The new proposal for Bengal includes thirty-seven million Hindi and Oriya speakers in the top seventeen million Bengalis.
  • Based on religion, the western Bengal area had a Hindu majority, while the eastern Bengal area had a Muslim majority.

Lord Curzon made a concerted effort to win the Muslims. As a result, he believes that Dacca may be selected as the new province’s capital, giving the Muslim population a sense of unity. To fight the Congress and the national movement, the British thus tried to cultivate Muslim communalists.

How did People Respond against the Bengal Partition?

While the British government gave its reasons for the Bengal partition, the move was met with widespread opposition and protest from various sections of society. The Indian middle class, who were an important part of the nationalist movement, saw the partition as a deliberate attempt to divide the Hindu and Muslim communities to weaken their political power.

They organised large-scale protests and demonstrations, including a boycott of British goods, in opposition to the partition of Bengal. The Hindu and Muslim communities, who had previously coexisted peacefully, were now divided along religious lines. This led to increased communal tensions and a decline in the cultural and intellectual harmony that Bengal was known for. Hence, the Bengal partition became an unpopular and controversial move that added to the growing discontent towards the British government. This led to the annulment in 1911.

Annulment of Partition of Bengal

There were various reasons which led to the annulment of the partition of Bengal, which are given here. Due to widespread political opposition, the partition was declared unlawful in 1911. Rather than dividing the Bengal province based on religious lines, the division was made on the linguistic base. Orissa and Bihar were formed as the two new provinces. Assam was split into separate states.

  • Incapable of quashing the protests, the authorities decided the reverse the divide.
  • On 12th December 1911, King George V. announced the inclusion of eastern Bengal into the Bengal Presidency at the Delhi Durbar.
  • While Assam, Bihar, & Orissa were divided, areas, where Bengali was being spoken, stayed united.
  • Lord Hardinge upturned the partition of Bengal in 1911. It was taken out in response to riots against the policy prompted by the Swadeshi movement.
  • The move of the capital to New Delhi was intended to give the British colonial administration a more substantial base.
  • Muslims in Bengal were shocked as they had presumed that the administration would protect their interests, considering the majority of Muslims in East Bengal.
  • They viewed this as the state prioritising Hindu concerns above Muslim ones to please Hindus and ease administrative duties.
  • Muslim leaders objected to the Bengal division. Leading Muslims began to see establishing the Muslim-majority districts, Eastern Bengal, including Assam, as advantageous.
  • Muslims suffered backwardness in the United Bengal era, especially in Eastern Bengal. Therefore, it was deemed meddling to protest against division on behalf of Hindus in a Muslim region.
  • The Britishers attempted to pacify angry Bengali Muslims at losing eastern Bengal by relocating the headquarters to a Mughal site.
  • Despite its annulment, the partition of Bengal didn’t result in a cultural separation between Hindus & Muslims.

Partition of Bengal and Swadeshi Movement

Bengali Hindus were at the forefront of the political movement for increased participation in governance, but their position would be weakened as Muslims now rule the East. As a result, Hindus tended to be used against the partition of Bengal, which Muslims supported more.

However, what happened after the Bengal partition prompted a nearly national anti-British movement that included boycotts, a death attempt against the ruler of a new West Bengal province, and quiet and violent protests.

Before it was deemed invalid in 1911, the partition of Bengal had barely lasted five years. However, the consequences of Britain’s Divide Et Imperia policy, which was the source of division, remained in the united province. Parallel elections for Muslims and Hindus were established in 1919. Many individuals from both groups had argued for the past unification of Bengalis as a nation. Now, diverse communities with individual political agendas have begun to emerge.

Due to their estimated twenty-eight to twenty-two million inhabitants, Muslims also dominated the Legislature. Nationwide, Hindus and Muslims began calling for establishing two independent states, one in areas with most Hindus and one in regions with a predominance of Muslims; the majority of Bengali Hindus now advocate partition of Bengal on this basis.

The Muslims wanted the entire province to be a part of Pakistan, the Islamic state. Bengal partition happened again in 1947, this time precisely because of religion. East Pakistan was established. However, East Pakistan formed the independent state of Bangladesh in 1971 for cultural reasons. While partition of Bengal may occasionally be essential as a pragmatic measure to prevent bloodshed, this usually generates new issues which further split society.

Dissatisfaction among minorities on both sides of the border is almost always brought on by partition. The Bengal partition ensued in bloodshed, destroyed lives, and divided the world.

Partition of Bengal UPSC

Partition of Bengal happened in 1905, even after aggressive opposition from the nationalists of India. The partition of Bengal UPSC is an essential topic in the Modern Indian History syllabus. It is comprehensively described in UPSC history books and notes. UPSC aspirants should focus on the details of this topic as per the syllabus for outstanding history subject preparation.

Bengal Partition UPSC Questions

This sample question on the topic of The Partition of Bengal will give you an idea of the UPSC exam question pattern. Take a look at the questions below:

Question 1: What was the principal reason for Bengal’s division?

A) As a result of the cultural differences between East and West Bengal.

B) The British sought to simplify the legal system.

C) A large bulk of Bengalis supported religious separation.

D ) The British desired for Indians to be separated.

Answer: B)

Question 2: The moderates wanted to boycott the whole of India during the struggle against the Bengal partition.

  1. True
  2. False

Correct Answer: 2.

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